Cashmere Tech v Miramar: Tough Chatham Cup game looms after long break

Yuya Taguchi, who scored the goal to send Cashmere Technical into Sunday’s Chatham Cup final with...
Yuya Taguchi, who scored the goal to send Cashmere Technical into Sunday’s Chatham Cup final with Miramar Rangers, has been back in training since January. Photo: Chris Barclay
Cashmere Technical hope a lack of competitive match play will not thwart their bid to win football’s Chatham Cup for a third time when they finally take on favourites Miramar Rangers in Wellington.

Christchurch football’s dominant force are striving to add the coveted knockout trophy to a cabinet already brimming with the Mainland Football’s premiership, the English Cup and Southern League silverware.

Covid-19 outbreaks and restrictions meant the Chatham Cup, which was not contested in 2020 due to the pandemic, will not awarded until Sunday afternoon at Jerry Collins Stadium.

Cashmere Technical, who claimed the Chatham Cup in 2013 and 2014, last played a competition game when they beat final-bound Wellington Olympic 5-1 during the last round of the South-Central Series on December 5.

Cashmere Technical are hoping to add to their silverware collection. Photo: Cashmere Technical...
Cashmere Technical are hoping to add to their silverware collection. Photo: Cashmere Technical Football Club
Miramar beat Olympic 7-2 a week later in the decider.

Cashmere Technical had a break after beating Olympic as they awaited for the outcome of the other Chatham Cup semi-final between Miramar and North Shore United.

The Auckland side ultimately defaulted citing Covid-19 fears although they did also lose several players at the end of the South-Central Series.

Cashmere Technical and Miramar last met in the South-Central Series, where the visitors won 2-1 at English Park last November.

“We know quite a lot of their players and we expect a very strong team,” said Cashmere Technical head coach Dan Schwarz, whose biggest concern is switching his squad back into game mode.

Dan Schwarz. Photo: Chris Barclay
Dan Schwarz. Photo: Chris Barclay
The squad, who advanced to the final by beating Wellington’s Western Suburbs 1-0 in October, had five weeks off before resuming training in late January.

“In terms of a pre-season it’s been very difficult. We’ve tried to do everything in house,” said Schwarz, who still arranged friendlies against Christchurch United and Tasman United.

They also had a training camp for 23 players in Methven earlier this month.

Sydney-based defender Sam Field, who scored in the loss to Miramar, is the only player missing from last year’s squad.

“It’s basically been business as usual, the lads have dine a lot of work in the off-season.”

Now the challenge is transferring that work to a cohesive performance on the pitch, a task that recently proved beyond Christchurch’s premier women’s side.

Coastal Spirit coach Juan Chang is acutely aware of the challenge facing Cashmere Technical after his side suffered their first defeat since early in the 2019 Mainland Football premiership when they bowed out of Kate Sheppard Cup - the women’s Chatham Cup - contention at the semi-final stage.

Playing their first game since the Reta Fitzpatrick Cup final victory over Cashmere Technical on August 14, Coastal Spirit were beaten 3-1 by Hamilton Wanderers at English Park on February 19.

Chang was philosophical after a rare setback rather than cite mitigating factors, like key players Zoe McMeekan and Alyssa Whinham being across the Tasman with the Wellington Phoenix. 

“We did have players to fill their spots, we’re really happy for them to go and it was good to bring in some youth players to experience these types of games,” he said.

“Unfortunately the result didn’t go our way but we’re just happy to be back on the pitch, no excuses, Hamilton were strong and better on the day.”

The squad kept training until October when the semi-finals were rescheduled until last weekend and they reassembled in the second week of January.

The Coastal Spirit side. Photo: Chris Barclay
The Coastal Spirit side. Photo: Chris Barclay
Unfortunately they could not find opposition for a warm-up game so they had to play the Spirit’s under-15 boys team.

In spite of the setback, Chang was justifiably proud of a squad that became the first premier women’s side to complete a Mainland Football campaign not just unbeaten, but without being held to a draw.

They won all 15 games while in 2020 they had one stalemate - their previous loss was 2-1 to Cashmere Technical in round two of the 2019 schedule.

Coastal Spirit also retained the Reta Fitzpatrick Cup, the women’s equivalent of the English Cup.

The focus is now on the upcoming premiership season, which gets under way on March 26.

“We’ll start the new season afresh, the girls are really motivated,” he said.

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